Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dr. K's Oscar Prediction Spectacular

I love the Oscars. Though I have little faith in the Academy for making the right choices every year, I do get caught up in the hype and excitement of the announcements every year (though this year I'm a little less excited because of the paucity of nominations for the criminally overlooked Bring It On: In It to Win It).

For the past two years, my pal Roy and I have written an Oscar prediction piece for the local paper. We manage to work well together on these articles because we have competing selection styles: Roy (who reads this blog) is an idealist, usually picking the actual best selection in a category based on aesthetic criteria, while I tend to be more of a cynical pragmatist, looking at Oscar history and other, nonaesthetic factors in my selection process. I, for example, have no problem voting for a film I have not seen. Though Roy is wrong slightly more often than I am, he retains a certain level of credibility that I have long sacrificed. In the end, he probably sleeps better at night about his choices than I do.

I have, however, been proud of my track record over the past few years. Two years ago, I only got two wrong (though one was missing "Crash" for best picture, which I really can't be blamed for missing), and every year I've beaten the so-called professional prognosticators at Entertainment Weekly, which gives me no end of pleasure.

With that being said, and that gauntlet being thrown, I'm going to list here my picks for this year's Oscars, which will appear in bold in the list below.

The list of nominees, by the way, is taken from the official Oscar website.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
*Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah" (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
*Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War" (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal)
*Julie Christie in "Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in "The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in "Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production)

In these three acting categories, I will be really upset if these frontrunners don't win. Julie Christie's performance in "Away From Her" is just amazing, though Ellen Page has gotten a lot of buzz, which hasn't really let up. I also really hope that Hal Holbrook doesn't pull an Alan Arkin by winning the Best Supporting Actor award as a kind of de facto lifetime achievement award. Holbrook is barely in "Into the Wild," and Bardem gives a performance that will go down in history as one of the great film villains. And if Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't win, you can drink my milkshake.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" (The Weinstein Company)
*Ruby Dee in "American Gangster" (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

This is a tough category because every nominee has a genuine shot based on the history of this award. Cate Blanchett gets points for playing a man and for being nominated in the lead category--two factors that often lead to victory. Amy Ryan has a breakthrough performance that often wins here, as it did with Jennifer Hudson, Mira Sorvino, and Marisa Tomei, to name a few. Saoirse Ronan could pull an Anna Paquin here as well. And Tilda Swinton is a great actress who is really due for recognition, and "Michael Clayton" may not have a chance in some other categories. But I'm going to go with Ruby Dee because of her SAG win and for the Alan Arkin factor, even though she is barely in "American Gangster." Still, I'm vacillating on this choice, as I think that both Blanchett and Swinton have clear shots at this as well.

Best animated feature film of the year
"Persepolis" (Sony Pictures Classics): Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
*"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Brad Bird
"Surf's Up" (Sony Pictures Releasing): Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Achievement in art direction
"American Gangster" (Universal): Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
*"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount): Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Achievement in cinematography
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.): Roger Deakins
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Seamus McGarvey
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Janusz Kaminski
*"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Roger Deakins
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Robert Elswit

I'm torn here between "Atonement" and "No Country." "Atonement" has some incredible camera work, including an amazing long tracking shot, but I'm bothered by the fact that the director, Joe Wright, did not get a much-deserved nomination. Roger Deakins is nominated twice in this category, and that may cause a split. However, I think that the momentum will be with "No Country for Old Men" on Sunday night, so I'm going with that.

Achievement in costume design
"Across the Universe" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Marit Allen
*"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount) Colleen Atwood

Achievement in directing
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Tony Gilroy
*"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Paul Thomas Anderson

The Coen Brothers are my favorite American filmmakers, so I'm kind of picking with my heart here rather than my head. Paul Thomas Anderson could take this one as well if "There Will Be Blood" ends up having more momentum than "No Country." Also, because the audience for those two movies is so similar, Julian Schnabel could come in with an upset.

Best documentary feature
*"No End in Sight" (Magnolia Pictures) A Representational Pictures Production: Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience" (The Documentary Group) A Documentary Group Production: Richard E. Robbins
"Sicko" (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company) A Dog Eat Dog Films Production: Michael Moore and Meghan O'Hara
"Taxi to the Dark Side" (THINKFilm) An X-Ray Production: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
"War/Dance" (THINKFilm) A Shine Global and Fine Films Production: Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Best documentary short subject
"Freeheld" A Lieutenant Films Production: Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
"La Corona (The Crown)" A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production: Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
"Salim Baba" A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production: Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
*"Sari's Mother" (Cinema Guild) A Daylight Factory Production: James Longley

I almost never get to see the short film nominees, so I base my guesses in these categories on subject matter and title. I usually do pretty well, nonetheless.

Achievement in film editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Christopher Rouse
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Juliette Welfling
"Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment): Jay Cassidy
*"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Dylan Tichenor

This category almost always goes to the ultimate Best Picture winner. I so want Roderick Jaynes to win this. The Coens have created a hilarious mythology around this pseudonym, and I hope that they have plans to build on it at the ceremony if he wins.

Best foreign language film of the year
"Beaufort" Israel
*"The Counterfeiters" Austria
"Katyn" Poland
"Mongol" Kazakhstan
"12" Russia

Achievement in makeup
*"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
"Norbit" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount): Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
*"Atonement" (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
"The Kite Runner" (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions, Distributed by Paramount Classics): Alberto Iglesias
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) James Newton Howard
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate) Marco Beltrami

"Atonement" was one of the few movies where I actually noticed the score. The use of typewriter keys as percussion was really distinctive and fit the film perfectly.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Falling Slowly" from "Once" (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and: Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush" (Warner Bros.): Music and Lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas
"So Close" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
*"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

I'm taking a total guess here. "Falling Slowly" could benefit from the "Enchanted" split, and it's a wonderful song that serves an important role in a very cute movie. If one of Eddie Vedder's songs from "Into the Wild" were nominated, I'd be picking that.

Best motion picture of the year
"Atonement" (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production) A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
*"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

I want this movie to win more than I've wanted a movie to win in a long time.

Best animated short film
*"I Met the Walrus" A Kids & Explosions Production: Josh Raskin
"Madame Tutli-Putli" (National Film Board of Canada) A National Film Board of Canada Production Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
"Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)" (Premium Films) A BUF Compagnie Production Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)" (Channel One Russia) A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production Alexander Petrov
"Peter & the Wolf" (BreakThru Films) A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

Best live action short film
"At Night" A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production: Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)" (Sky Cinema Italia) A Frame by Frame Italia Production: Andrea Jublin
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)" (Premium Films) A Karé Production: Philippe Pollet-Villard
"Tanghi Argentini" (Premium Films) An Another Dimension of an Idea Production: Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
*"The Tonto Woman" A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production: Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

Achievement in sound editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood
*"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Achievement in sound mixing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal) Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate): Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
*"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

When the same movie is nominated in the two sound categories, it usually wins both.

Achievement in visual effects
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
*"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

"Transformers" is the only one of these movies that the Academy voters will actually feel okay voting for.

Adapted screenplay
"Atonement" (Focus Features), Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
"Away from Her" (Lionsgate), Written by Sarah Polley
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
*"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

This, however, may be the category that PTA has the best chance of winning if the voters decided to spread the wealth a little.

Original screenplay
*"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), Written by Diablo Cody
"Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM), Written by Nancy Oliver
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Written by Tony Gilroy
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
"The Savages" (Fox Searchlight), Written by Tamara Jenkins

"Juno" is the type of movie that normally wins this category: the popular choice by a first-time writer. See "Little Miss Sunshine," "Thelma and Louise," and "Good Will Hunting." "Michael Clayton" also has a shot here, though.

4 comments:

Castle of Stink said...

For the main categories, I'm mostly with you, but I think Marion Cotillard will win over Julie Christie.

I also think Persepolis might take the animated category because of it's subject matter.

Maxo said...

I hope you're right about Javier Bardem. He's a fantastic actor, and I've been a fan since The Sea Within.

I wish Persepolis would win, too, but Ratatouille is likely the kind of safe choice the Oscars seem to favor. Still, it would be nice.

TCB said...

Nice list, Dr. K. I'm with you on about 90% of 'em.

Laughed out loud at the "...you can drink my milkshake" line.

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